Hey Everyone! I’m Roger Hamilton and I oversee the training and development of our Eagle Lake staff. I have been with the Navigators for 33 years! I love helping our staff grow in their knowledge and love of God and the Bible. One thing I don’t like are blogs. So, I prefer to call it a B-Log, as in Bible log. I’ll be back as your trusty Eagle Lake B-logger every other week, at least until you get sick of me. Did you miss the last post? Read it here!
3 Ways to Check Your Christian Living
Am I active, available, and approachable? What does that mean, anyway?
This month our family has watched in awe as God has miraculously transformed the lives of several people we know with the good news of Christ. What’s really fun is that it’s clear that God is the one at work- any human involvement is almost coincidental. Isn’t that how it should be?
I love how God uses men and women in a variety of ways throughout the book of Acts to engage with people who don’t know Him. But it really is unfortunate that these stories have been called, “The Acts of the Apostles.”
As many commentators have pointed out, it ought to be named, “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.”
To borrow Peter’s description for how God led the Old Testament prophets, the men and women of Acts, he said they “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21),” that sounds pretty good to me.
As I read through the account in Acts of the explosion of the Church in the first century, there are three postures of the early believers that help me play my part in the advance of the gospel. They were, at different times and places, ACTIVE, AVAILABLE and APPROACHABLE.
In the book of Acts, who comes to mind when you see the word “active”? Starting after (or even before) his conversion, I immediately think of Paul (formerly, Saul). He was active prior to meeting Jesus – “But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison”- Acts 8:31.
Then after He met Christ and believed in him (Acts 9) Saul shifted from persecution to ministering to those he persecuted. “But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ” – Acts 9:22. A quick flip through of Acts will name his travels to about 50 different locations.
Paul’s so active he’s got maps in the back of our Bible’s!
He took sharing the gospel so seriously that he traveled throughout the Roman Empire and gave his life so that others could hear the good news (see Acts 20:24!). It’s a good thing to be active in sharing the gospel. Paul tells Philemon, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ (Philemon 6).”
Philip is another great example. Acts 8:4-6 says, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said.” There are plenty more examples apart from these two, disciples are active, just check out John 15:8.
And it’s a good thing to be active in sharing Christ, but in my early years as a Christian and as a Navigator, I foolishly believed this was the only way to “witness for Christ.”
I had to be actively initiating with those who didn’t know Christ every week (maybe even every day!) in order to honor God and be a “good Christian.”
This led to sometimes awkward encounters where the gospel was forced into conversations in a way that wasn’t respectful and honoring to the one receiving the good news. Which brings us back to Peter’s description for how God led the Old Testament prophets, how they “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21),” that’s the active I want to be too.
In the same way that there are times when God calls us to be active, there are those times (maybe the rest of our time!) when we need to be available. I’ve enjoyed looking for those people in Acts that were used by God in incredible ways, simply by being available. I’m not saying they were passive or lazy. They were just looking for what God might be doing in the lives of those around them (and their own).
Take another look at Philip in Acts 8:26-40.
In these passages an angel of the Lord comes to Philip and tells him to go to a specific road. When he gets there he meets an Ethiopian eunuch who is sitting in a chariot reading the book of Isaiah. Philip sees this man and God leads Philip to go talk to him and ask “Do you understand what you are reading?” because God knows this man has questions! The man begins to ask Philip about what he is reading and ends up baptized by the end of the chapter.
All of this happens because Philip was simply available. We may not often find an angel in our living room instructing us to go to a certain road, but we can ask God what he has for us this very day and to whom he would like our time and proximity to be available toward.
Ananias in Acts 9 is another example.
God does all the work in stopping Saul of Tarsus in his tracks, then He calls a disciple named Ananias to be available to care for the blind, confused and frightened new believer. The one who would become the Apostle Paul! This is a fairly similar story to Philip in the sense that God again calls his available disciple to go to a certain road and talk to a person, except this time God tells Ananias who to look for.
If God asked you to go talk to the man who has been killing fellow believers in Christ, would you go?
Read Acts 9 to see Ananias’s conversation with God before he goes to find Saul!
Whether God is calling us to be active or available, I think He always wants us to be approachable. Look at each of the above examples again. Were they approachable? Did their attitudes and actions, how they spoke and how they listened, aid the seeker in understanding and appreciating the gospel? Absolutely!
One of my favorite verses on sharing Christ is 1 Peter 3:15 which says: “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” The only problem is that when I memorized this verse as a young Christian, I forgot the last phrase: “…yet do it with gentleness and respect.” And it showed in my approach! I wasn’t approachable because I was lacking in gentleness and respect. Again, YIKES!
Consider the men and women God has brought your way.
Is He nudging you to take initiative and be ACTIVE in sharing your faith with them? Are there others where it’s more appropriate to be AVAILABLE? And maybe you’re like the younger me who needs to examine how APPROACHABLE we are.
I’d love to hear from you as you hear from the Lord! Put your thoughts in the comments below!
Read questions and Journal!
- Can you think of other examples in Acts that fit those three words above? What can you learn from their example and experience?
- What about mentors and leaders in your own life? How have they impacted you or others you know?
- Study 1 Peter 3:15, including the surrounding verses. What does Peter say about our knowledge of the gospel? What about our attitude and conduct?
- Did you know, the title for Acts is not found in the text of the book? 2nd and 3rd century authors made various suggestions, with Acts of the Apostles becoming the preferred title through the influence of church leaders like Irenaeus (120 or 140 to 203).